NEP 5+3+3+4: Grades, Syllabus, Subjects, Exams, Streams & More

Last Updated on August 1, 2020 by

NEP stands for National Education Policy. The Union Cabinet has approved the NEP. In this post, we will have an in-depth analysis of this policy. Both students and parents will benefit from this post.

5+3+3+4 Subjects, Syllabus & Exams

Here, I’ve covered the following details – basic details about the NEP, in-depth analysis of the policy, salient features, key changes, age brackets, class groups, subjects, curriculum etc. In short, parents and students will find all the important details that they need to know about NEP in this post.


NEP to replace NPE

NPE stands for National Policy on Education. This policy was approved in 1986. NPE served as the the foundation of India’s education system for 34 years.


While NPE was formally introduced, it introduced sweeping changes in the education sector. But NPE has become outdated now. This is the age of Digital India. We need something more than the good old NPE. This is why the centre decided to pull the plug on it and introduce the revolutionary NEP.


Under NPE, we had the 10+2 system of schooling, 3-4 years Bachelor’s Degree programs, Master’s Degree programs, M.Phil. programs and PhD programs. NPE also laid adequate importance on affiliation status of a college/institute.


On the other hand, NEP has the innovative 5+3+3+4 structure. 3-4 years long Bachelor’s Degree programs, Master’s Degree programs and PhD programs will stay put under this policy. But M.Phil. programs will be discontinued once it is thoroughly implemented.


Come, let us take a quick look at the key differences between the NEP and NPE. Here it is –



5+3+3+4 schooling structure 10+2 schooling structure
Stream system is flexible and non-rigid Rigid stream system
Multiple exit options No useful exit options
Emphasis on vocational training Emphasis of classroom lectures and learning
Will deem M.Phil. programs useless M.Phil. programs play a key role in higher education
Importance of board exams diluted 10th and 12th board exams hold immense value


Come, let us have an in-depth analysis of NEP and the changes it will bring to Indian education system. Let us start –


NEP 5+3+3+4 reforms: Curriculum, subjects, learning, streams and more

In this section, we will take a close look at the major reforms introduced by the NEP. Reforms related to schooling system has been discussed in detail here.


First of all, we will take a close look at the reforms aimed at schooling phase. NEP is all set to transform school education system in India. Let us check out the list of reforms:


5+3+3+4 structure

The old 10+2 schooling system is set to be replaced by 5+3+3+4 schooling system. The new structure deals with 15 years (12 years of schooling and 3 years of pre-schooling) of schooling. First five years form the foundation stage. This stage is aimed at students belonging to 3-8 years age group.


Foundation stage is followed by preparatory stage. This stage is aimed at students belonging to 8-11 years of age. The next three years collectively form the middle stage. It is aimed at students belonging to 11-14 years of stage. And the last 4 years form the secondary stage. 14-18 year old students fall under this category.


Stage Years Age
Foundation stage 5 years 3-8 years of age
Preparatory stage 3 years 8-11 years of age
Middle stage 3 years 11-14 years of age
Secondary stage 4 years 14-18 years of age


Early Childhood Care and Education

NEP gives huge importance to ECCE. Earlier, children belonging to the age group of 3-6 years were largely ignored by the formal school education framework or system of India. Pre-school phase was not taken seriously under the 10+2 system.


Under the 5+3+3+4 system, due attention will be given to children who are 3-8 years long. In other words, 3-6 year old children will gain access to a systematic and well-crafted early childhood education and care.


Early childhood Education is a crucial part of school education. It is at this stage that the mental faculties of a child starts to develop. At this stage, he/she must get access to scientifically designed curriculum and care.


Keeping the needs of children up to the age of 8 years, the NCERT has been tasked with the development of NCPFECCE. It stands for National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education.


Curriculum and syllabus

It is safe to say that the new curriculum will be a trimmed-down version of the current one. The size of the syllabus will be reduced. At the same time, core subjects and concepts will be given due attention. In other words, students will be able to understand the core concepts and fundamentals. Rote learning will give way to ‘learning and understanding’ the fundamentals.


The curriculum has been designed to develop problem solving skills, thinking and learning among the students. Finer details (like vocational training, medium of instruction and streams) have been discussed in detail ahead –


Streams and subjects

Under the 10+2 system, we have been dealing with a rigid stream-wise subject selection process. For example, after passing 10th class, a student had access to three main streams – Arts/Humanities, Commerce and Science.


If a student wants to become a Doctor, he/she must select Science stream and choose PCB subjects. While doing so, he/she must say goodbye to non-stream subjects (like arts, accounting, politics etc).


What if a student wants to become a Doctor, but he/she is also passionate about arts? This is where NEP comes handy! Under this system, the rigid stream system has given way to a more flexible and open stream system.


Under the new system, there won’t be a clear and rigid separation between arts and science streams. By choosing a specific path, a student won’t be tied down to a specific set of subjects! He/she will be able to choose subjects belonging to different streams!


Vocational training

Vocational training forms an integral part of the NEP. The Government knows very well that skill development is the key to build an employable workforce in India. It is a well known fact that India’s workforce is largely untrained and lacks domain-specific skills. Vocational training programs have been introduced with the aim of developing a skilled workforce in India.


With NEP, the Government wants to formally introduce vocational training at the school level. As per the new policy, vocational training will formally start from the 6th grade. Vocational training program is aimed at developing skills among students. It will also consist of internships.


Extra-curricular activities

So far, we have been conveniently ignoring the importance of extra-curricular activities at school. Yes, we’ve had them for a long time at schools. But they usually don’t carry any academic value or importance. As a result, students used to focus only on curricular activities. When an activity is not very rewarding (in terms of marks, credit or importance), students will largely ignore it.


This trend is set to change now! Under the new NEP policy, there will be no rigid separations between curricular and extra-curricular activities. As a result, I believe that more and more students will be encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities with renewed zeal and determination.


Medium of instruction & languages

The policy gives due importance to regional/local language or mother tongue of students. This is the main reason why NEP recommends that local language or mother tongue should be the medium of instruction till grade 5.


Apart from the local language policy, NEP also recommends offering Sanskrit at all levels of school and higher education (as an option, under the three-language formula). According to the policy, no language will be imposed on a student. He/she is free to choose it from the list of options.


Apart from Indian languages, several foreign languages will also be offered at secondary level. Students with hearing impairment will be able to access a standardized version of Indian Sign Language.


Assessment of students

NEP has changed Indian school education system’s foundation. The academic structure, syllabus, medium of instruction, learning techniques – it has changed these things.


If the assessment technique is not changed, these sweeping changes made to curriculum and syllabus will not matter much! As a result, the NEP also aims at revamping the current assessment practice. The new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be set up. This body will serve as the standard setting organization when it comes to student assessment and evaluation.


Let us find out how NEP is set to change the way we see and treat school-level examinations –


School and board examinations

As I mentioned before, NEP is set to change the current evaluation practices, exams and techniques. Some evaluation tests will remain as it is. But their importance will be toned down a bit.


School tests will be crafted to test aspects such as – analysis, critical thinking and knowledge about basic concepts/fundamentals. For evaluation, all students must take part in school exams conducted in grades 3, 5 and 8. These tests will be conducted by relevant authorities. 10th and 12th grade exams will continue to take place. But their importance will be toned down. Instead of promoting rote learning, the exams will be aimed at testing the students’ level of knowledge (about the fundamentals), way of thinking, problem solving skills etc.


Teacher training and selection

With change in the school education system, we must also change the way we are taught, right? According to the new policy, teacher selection process must be made a transparent process. Skilled, eligible and deserving teachers must be recruited on the basis of a merit-based selection process.


Along with curriculum, teaching practices and techniques must also change. Teachers must adapt and develop their skill-set with time. For example – online learning is all set to stay here. In the future, a large number of students will rely on online learning for acquiring knowledge. In order to meet this growing demand, teachers must adapt and learn to use technology to provide online classes to his/her students. This is just an example! For this purpose, a common NPST (National Professional Standards for Teachers) will be set by the NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education).


Implementation of NEP: Dates, Schedule & More

NEP is a framework. This framework has been crafted to revamp the education system of India. The framework consists of a broad set of directions, suggestions and rules. Centre and State Governments must work together and collectively implement the new policy.


Implementing the new education policy is not an easy task. In a country like India, implementing this policy is going to be a challenging task. It is up to the states to follow the framework and carry out state-wise reforms.


The Government believes that the policy will be implemented fully by 2040. Different bodies and organizations (state governments, centre, HRD ministry, NTA, NCERT etc) must work collectively to implement this policy.

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